Monday, April 2, 2012

Confession: I've only read one book by Jane Austen - Northanger Abbey, which I just finished over spring break for my 17th-19th Century British Literature class.

But here's another, perhaps less shocking, confession: I loved it!

And even less shocking: I love Henry Tilney!

Of course, I think I fell in love with him after seeing the PBS Masterpiece version of Northanger Abbey. JJ Feild does a great job playing the role!

*Happy sigh*

Anyway, for this "Where the Past Meets the Present" feature, let's consider what we as writers can learn from Austen's portrayal of Mr. Tilney:
  • Realistic: Henry Tilney is a character with what I perceive to be a rather normal job as the second son in this era (a clergyman), a sense of humor that shows a bit of pride in his own cleverness and wit, and a reason for falling in love that is quite...ordinary ("...I must confess that his affection originated in nothing better than gratitude; or, in other words, that a persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a serious thought" - Northanger Abbey). In other words, Tilney is remarkable in his own right, but he is realistically down to earth and not overly romanticized (well, perhaps not too much).
  • Rare: Despite Tilney's ordinary qualities, he's also unique (in my opinion) as a hero. He enjoys a good story and is not too bad at making up his own. He's not brooding or out of reach - he openly admires the heroine, teases her, and offers advice. Love this line about him from his sister to the heroine: "He is for ever finding fault with me for some incorrectness of language, and now he is taking the same liberty with you." (Hmmm...he might fit in well with my family, LOL!)

When creating our own heroes, I think a good balance between realism and rarity can be a good thing. The hero should have his faults. He should be understandable and recognizable, in a sense. But he should also stand out for some reason or other, particularly in a romance novel, as there are just so many heroes out there (and it's easy to be cliche in some respect when it comes to romantic heroes).

I know, I know... Easier said than done! Hopefully I can take my own advice. ;)

I leave you with one more quote from the book to gratify our readers, followed by a question or two:

"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel must be intolerably stupid."

(Yep, yep! ;) And yes, dear Henry - our model hero - said that!)

Who is your favorite Jane Austen hero (or any other fictional hero)? What makes that hero your favorite?

(JJ Feild as Henry Tilney - image from the PBS Masterpiece website.)


  1. Great article, Amber. Thank you!

    My all time favorite Austen hero is Mr. Darcy (OF COURSE!) Why? Because of his "quizzical brow", to quote Elizabeth Bennett. :-)

    That said, I must admit that Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility is a VERY close second. I swoon every time I hear Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon say, "Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad."


  2. Lisa,

    Aww, glad you liked it! :)

    And of course! To quote Tom Hanks on You've Got Mail: "I bet you just love that Mr. Darcy." ;) Are you a fan of the newer Mr. Darcy or the BBC one?

    Oh, and I love Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon! Deep voice, deep heart. That's a great line!

    I'll share in that sigh, LOL!


    P.S. I also love Mr Knightley from Emma (the one with Gwynneth Paltrow)!

  3. Great post. It makes so much sense to blend rarity with reality to shape a good character. Oh and I totally get the *happy sigh*. I do it all the way through the 1998 BBC Sense & Sensibility ;)

  4. oh and that would be 2008. I went back one too many decades :)

  5. Joanne,

    Thank you! And glad you get the *happy sigh,* LOL! ;)

    I don't think I've seen that version of Sense & Sensibility - I'm guessing it's good? I love the 1995 version with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman. :)



Newsletter Subscribe



Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.

Historical Romantic Suspense

Historical Romance



Popular Posts

Guest Registry